I was on my way back from a long one-day trip to Phoenix (doing the startup hustle) and an old friend popped into my mind.
Scot is a musician. He was in a band. And, they were very close to making it big. They got airplay across the country and internationally. They had a die-hard local following. (I was a fan before I ever met him.) They were traveling all over the place building strong pockets of fans everywhere they put on their incredible live shows. They were hustling. Momentum was building.
But, they didn’t become “rock stars.”
Knowing Scot, I am not sure that is even what he wanted. I suspect the rock star designation for most musicians is an inaccurate, or at least narrow, moniker to try and capture some external notion of success or validation. Scot loved music. He loved the camaraderie of the band. He loved performing. He loved creating. He loved that people loved what he was creating.
And, now years later as a college professor, he still does. Little has really changed.
Scot’s creativity didn’t live within his music. Music was its outlet. Now, it’s higher education.
For years, people have chuckled in confusion when I tell them I have an MFA (that I am still paying for) from one of the most respected, if not widely known, art schools in the country, Cranbrook Academy of Art. Clearly, I wasted my time and money. They assume I was forced to change “careers” because art was obviously a dead end. What could art have to do with my work? With education reform? Entrepreneurship?
Creativity is a transferable skill; the creative process a discipline. Where and how we choose to cultivate our creativity is fairly unimportant. However, where and how we choose to apply our creativity directs our life’s creative journey.
Now, as an entrepreneur I feel more than ever like Scot (or how I imagine him early in his music career), like a musician hustling to get his product out there. I want to share it with people. I want people to use it. Give feedback. Enjoy it. Challenge it. Find meaning in it. And, yes, pay for it.
I want all of this so that I can continue to create in this space.
But, I also want to know what I am creating matters. And, if it doesn’t, I want to know how and why so that I can make sure it ultimately does.
Like most artists, musicians, entrepreneurs, and the various and sundry others with the driving need to create, I don’t really want to be a rock star.
I want to matter.